Sarah James

the possibilities of poetry…

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Home Stretch

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National Poetry Day may be over but I’ve been making the theme stretch by enjoying a part-relaxing, part-heavily-MA-laden week at home.

It’s back on the road next week though with a reading at Inkberrow near Redditch on Tuesday lunchtime to prove that this area really is full of talent and variety.

Then on Thursday evening it’s the Birmingham launch of the Bugged anthology at the Ikon Gallery as part of the Birmingham Book Festival. I won’t be reading person this time but the launch will feature other live readings and my poem video version of 7am rising, which is my poem in the anthology.

Meanwhile, if you’re at home, the new Birmingham Book Festival The Loop is now playing on www.radiowildfire.com and includes my Helen Bamber Foundation National Poetry Day poem Silent Traffic, as well as lots of other spoken word gems!

And it’s here, UK National Poetry Day 2010!

Over the past week or so, I’ve blogged various resources for writing with children and poem videos for children and adults on this blog and the fansite section of the website.

Thinking about this year’s theme of home, my thoughts went automatically to happy things. For me, home is a place of family, friends, love and – mostly – laughter. But watching a programme a few weeks ago, I was reminded that this isn’t the case for everyone.

For some people home is a prison or a place of sorrow or torture. For others it is a word that has no meaning at all. So how might poetry help? Well, reading or writing poetry can be a refuge for those who have nowhere else to turn for comfort or solace. It can also be used to raise funds.

The Big Issue in the North combined all these with National Poetry Day last year and is again running an annual poetry competition. Entitled The Big Scribble, the theme is ‘home’ and poets have until October 18 to get their poems in. The entry fee is a donation to the charity. More details are available under The Big Scribble on the website at http://www.bigissueinthenorth.com/ .

Poetry can also be a way, hopefully, of raising awareness and spreading a message. That is why I have chosen to write the following poem in support of the Helen Bamber Foundation‘s work to highlight the issues of human trafficking.

Silent Traffic

For the Helen Bamber Foundation in support of Journey

On the floorboards, a red dress gashes
bare wood. Discarded stilettos flounder
on their sides like crippled foals struggling
to stand. A ripped sheet is twisted like rope.

The body that lies on the bed, uncovered,
curves to the lumps in the mattress, corralled
and rigid as a seahorse, even in sleep.
Especially, in sleep.

When she awakes, her pillow wet with tears,
red skin braceletting thin wrists,
her lips will struggle to remember
the shape of words that have any meaning.

Sarah James


I have also turned Silent Traffic into a poem video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOzaD5yiuf4.

I hope that this will move you – not to bring you down but to raise awareness and encourage you to check out the Helen Bamber Foundation website at www.helenbamber.org to see how you can help. Please also feel free to spread the message by passing this poem/blog post on, if you wish.

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